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Every person is unique and dementia affects people differently

To mark World Alzheimer’s Month, the Gibraltar Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society (GADS) is raising awareness with a month-long campaign. Every week on Thursdays through the month of September the Chronicle will be publishing articles provided by GADS.

Today, September 21 will mark the 12th World Alzheimer’s Day around the world. This is an international campaign aimed at raising awareness and challenge the common stigma that surrounds Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

“World Alzheimer’s Day is an opportunity for people living with dementia, their families, and carers, medical, health, social and care professionals, press and media to work together against dementia as well as raising awareness and lobbying the policy makers for improved help and care support,” said Daphne Alcantara, GADS Chairperson.

“During this month we encourage everyone to learn more about dementia and its’ impact on our society. It is vital that we all continue to speak up and spread awareness about dementia and we ask to go one step further and share what you have learned with people you know, such as your friends and family members.”

“From previous studies, an average of 2 out of 3 people globally have little or no understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias.”

“Most people often think that the disease is a normal part of ageing, though this may not be true, a greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is increasing age, this is evident by most people living with dementia being over 65 years or older, but this doesn’t classify the condition as an elderly disease. For too long Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia have been mistakenly perceived as an ‘old person’s disease’ and a natural part of ageing.”

“Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that impairs memory and other mental functions. It is the most common form of dementia that generalizes memory loss and loss of other essential cognitive abilities that are serious enough to interfere with an individual’s daily life.”

“Frequently people hear the word dementia and picture an older person in care unable to live well and certainly unable to work, but with the number of people living with dementia expected to increase we will see many more people developing dementia while still in employment.”

“It is not something we can ignore, a widespread lack of awareness and understanding often stops people from talking about the condition and causes many people to experience loneliness and social exclusion.”


Dementia is a term used to describe different brain disorders that affect memory, thinking, behaviour and emotion. It does not have any cure, and it is progressive in nature, but early diagnosis and treatment can help in reducing the symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It is one of the most common types of dementia, accounting for 50-80% of all dementia cases around the world.

Other causes include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia.

Dementia knows no social, economic, or ethnic boundaries. It affects people in different ways, depending on the disease as well as the person. It is one of the main causes of disability in life, ahead of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Every person is unique, and dementia affects people differently – no two people will have symptoms that develop in the same way. An individual’s personality, general health and social situation are all important factors in determining the impact of dementia on them.

Symptoms vary between Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, but there are broad similarities between them all. The most common early signs of dementia are memory loss and a reduction in practical abilities, which can lead to withdrawal from work or social activities.

Whether you are concerned for yourself or someone you care about, it is important to know the Warning Signs of dementia so you can ensure early diagnosis. Here are 10 of the most common warning signs for dementia.

Memory Loss that affects day-to-day abilities – are you, or the person you know, forgetting things often or struggling to retain new information ?

Declining memory, especially short-term memory (remembering things that have happened recently), is the most common early symptoms of dementia. People with ordinary forgetfulness can still remember other facts associated with the thing they have forgotten. For example, they may briefly forget their next-door neighbour’s name, but they still know the person they are talking to is their next-door neighbour. A person living with dementia may not only forget their neighbour’s name but also the context and memories for things that happened long ago may be preserved over recent events.

Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks- are you, or the person you know, forgetting how to do a typical routine or task, such as getting dressed or preparing ?

People with dementia often find it hard to complete everyday tasks that are so familiar that we usually do them without thinking. Someone with dementia may not know in what order to put on clothes or the steps for preparing a meal.

Problems With Language – are you, or the person you know, forgetting words or substituting words that don’t fit into a conversation ?

Occasionally everyone has trouble finding the right word but a person with dementia can often forget simple words or substitutes unusual words, making speech or writing hard to understand. They may also have difficulties following a conversation and therefore become more withdrawn.

Disorientation in time and place – are you, or the person you know, having problems knowing what day of the week it is or getting lost in a familiar place ?

We all sometimes forget the day of the week or where we are going momentarily but people with dementia can become lost in familiar places such as the road they live in, forget where they are or how they got there, and not know how to get back home. Someone who has dementia may also confuse night and day.

Poor or impaired judgement – are you, or the person you know, not recognizing something that can put health and safety at risk ?

From time to time, people may make questionable decisions such as putting off seeing a doctor when they are not feeling well. However, a person living with dementia may experience changes in judgment or decision-making, such as not recognizing a medical problem that needs attention or wearing heavy clothing on a hot day.

Problems with concentration, planning or organising – are you, or the person you know, having problems understanding what numbers and symbols mean ?

A person with dementia may find it difficult to make decisions, solve problems, or keep up with paying their bills because of a loss of understanding what numbers are and how they are used.

Misplacing things – are you, or the person you know, putting things in places where they shouldn’t be ?

Anyone can temporarily misplace his or her wallet or keys. A person with dementia may put things in unusual places such as an iron in the fridge or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl.

Changes in mood or behaviour – are you, or the person you know, behaving in a way that is out of character ?

Everyone can become sad or moody from time to time. Dementia may cause someone to become unusually emotional and experience rapid mood swings or irritability for no apparent reason. Alternatively, they may show less emotion or social interaction than was usual previously.

Trouble with images or spatial information – are you, or someone you know having problems seeing things correctly ? or co-ordinating visual and spatial information ?

Image problems are different from typical age-related problems, such as cataracts. People with dementia can have difficulty in reading, judging distances, seeing objects in three dimensions and in determining colour or contrast.

Withdrawal from work or social activities – are you, or someone you know losing interest in friends, family and favourite activities ?

At times everyone can become tired of housework, business activities, or social obligation. However, a person with dementia may become very passive, sitting in front of the television for hours, sleeping more than usual, or appearing to lose interest in hobbies.

If you are worried you are experiencing any of these symptoms in your daily life, or the life of someone you know, it is important you should visit a GP, and encourage them to talk to theirs.

Every year, Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) publishes its report on September, 21st World Alzheimer’s Day and focuses on different topics related to dementia.

This year’s World Alzheimer’s Report takes an in-depth look at risk reduction strategies for dementia. Crafted in a journalistic style and featuring key case studies, the report explores the vital steps individuals can take to mitigate their risk.

The report examines the drivers behind risk reduction, including lifelong risk reduction and the steps that individuals can take to reduce their risks as well as the role of government in providing population-based systemic changes to promote risk reduction and the importance of dementia research.

United Today on World Alzheimer’s Day

This evening GADS will hold a family friendly Memory Walk suitable for all ages and abilities. Residents from Mount Alvernia, John Cochrane Ward, Hillsides and John Mac Home will start the walk from Campion Park at 7.00pm behind the banner “United Together Against Dementia.”

For your mum, for your dad, for your granny, for your grandad, or for a friend or for loved one ? Show your support to people living with dementia and honour those who are no longer with us by wearing Purple.

Mount Alvernia and the Tower of Homage will be lit in Purple, the signature colour of Alzheimer’s.

The Gibraltar Alzheimer’s & Dementia Society (GADS) offers support group meetings to families and caregivers; we extend practical information on care giving, ways of coping, talk through challenges, share experience, and offer advice on care and support services available in Gibraltar.

For advice and support, contact :
The Gibraltar Alzheimer’s & Dementia Society
Email :
Tel : (00350) 56001422
Facebook : www.//gibraltaralzheimersanddementiasociety

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